99 Names – 99 Deities #2

– Communal harmony in present day India is under threat with a series of lynchings carried out by so called Hindu Cow vigilantes on innocent Muslims and Hindu Dalits. By the grace of the divine we can draw parallels between Islamic and Hindu thought in order to bring both communities closer together and end the violence. This will be the purpose of this blog series – 

For basic understanding of the title “99 names 99 deities” I will share this information snippet.

Hindus recognize one God, Brahman. Brahman is the ultimate reality and the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence. The deities of the Hindu faith represent different expressions and manifestations of Brahman.

Similarly, Muslims recognize one God, Allah. Allah also is the ultimate reality and the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence. Allah has 99 names which represent his different attributes and qualities.


2. Lakshmi and al-Wahhab

 

 

Introduction

Spiritual and Material Prosperity and wealth is something that all of us seek and wish to have in life. It is this aspect of the divine that we turn to when we feel that we are in need and wish to receive these two precious gifts.

Etymologi

Lakshmi is the Hindu Goddess of spiritual and material wealth. Her name is derived from the Sanskrit root words Laks and Laksa. Laks means :

“to perceive, observe, know, understand” and Laksa means “goal, aim, objective.”

Thus, Lakshmi represents the goal of life. Know your objective, understand your goal. These are the ideals that Lakshmi stands for.

Al-Wahhab is the most liberal bestower, the great giver, the giver of gifts. His name is derived from the Arabic root word “Waw-ha-ba” meaning :

“to give/grant/bestow, dedicate, offer as a present/gift.”

The arabic word Hiba means gift. Hiba and Wahhab are related words.

Textual Analysis

In Chapter 67 verse 19 of the Holy Qur’an, Allah says :

“Do they not observe the birds above them spreading their wings and folding them? None could hold them except the Compassionate (Allah), surely it is He Who watches over all things.”

The word Arabic word for observe comes from the root word “Ra-Alif-Ya” meaning :

“to see/think/hold, in opinion of, perceive, judge, consider, know.”

Seeing a bird is only half the story. Understanding that the bird is part of God’s creation and that it is God who is holding up the bird is the entire story. Thus, this seeing that the Qur’an talks about is a seeing that perceives not only the material world but also the spiritual world i.e seeing the bird and the force that is behind it, God.

This simple message that the Qur’an is conveying is exactly what Lakshmi symbolizes, that the goal of life is not only to have material wealth (having two physical eyes with which one can see the physical world) but to combine this material wealth with spiritual wealth (seeing the physical world with ones eyes but understanding that there lies a spiritual realm behind it.)

Symbolism

Lakshmi’s image is laden with deep symbolism. She is omnipresent and this is symbolized by her four arms which represent the four cardinal directions present in the universe. Her sari, colored red, denotes activity and action. The embroidered golden lining which graces her red sari symbolizes prosperity.
The message that is meant to be conveyed here is that Lakshmi is everywhere, never resting but always deep in the throes of activity and action, her activity and action being the giving of the gifts of wealth and prosperity to her devotees.

Similarly, the also omnipresent al-Wahhab is always busy with the task of bestowing gifts upon his devotees.

Ritual

It is believed that the one who recites this name of Allah (swt) 100 times after two rakaats (cycles) of Namaaz (prayer) will get all of his/her needs fulfilled.

Hindus wishing to obtain the blessings of Lakshmi chant her name 100 or a 1000 times during their ritual worship of the Goddess.

Invocation for communal harmony

We ask Lakshmi and al-Wahhab to bestow upon us the gift of peace within our communities and mutual understanding towards one another ❤

99 names – 99 Deities

Communal harmony in present day India is under threat with a series of lynchings carried out by so called Hindu Cow vigilantes on innocent Muslims and Hindu Dalits. By the grace of the divine we can draw parallels between Islamic and Hindu thought in order to bring both communities closer together and end the violence. This will be the purpose of this blog series.

For basic understanding of the title “99 names 99 deities” I will share this information snippet.

Hindus recognize one God, Brahman. Brahman is the ultimate reality and the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence. The deities of the Hindu faith represent different expressions and manifestations of Brahman.

Similarly, Muslims recognize one God, Allah. Allah also is the ultimate reality and the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence. Allah has 99 names which represent his different attributes and qualities.

1. Al Musawwir and Vishwakarma

 

 

The worlds highest minaret, the Qutb Minar in New Delhi, built around 1192, not only has Arabic script invoking Allah (swt) but also Devanagari script invoking Lord Vishwakarma, the lord of craftsmanship.

So here we can use the Qutb minar in order to bridge Islamic and Hindu philosophy and thought. Vishwakarma, known as the “architect of the whole universe”, equates to Al-Musawwir, the name of Allah which means “The fashioner, the bestower of forms, the shaper.”

May the architect of the whole universe build peace within our world. May the shaper shape understanding for one another within our hearts.

Ramadan cooking day 18

Assalamu’ Aleikum to everyone 🙂

Yesterday my mother bought me a butternut squash and today my brother brought it over to my home. So I decided to see what kind of Indian dishes incorporate squash/gourd vegetables and fell upon a traditional dish belonging to the Telugu style of cooking called ‘Sorakaya Pappu.’ Sorakaya means bottle gourd in the Telugu language, which by the way is the fourth most spoken language on the entire subcontinent, trailing Hindi, Bengali, and Punjabi. Pappu means Dal, and dal is the hindi word for lentil. So the name Sorakaya Pappu basically means bottle gourd lentil.

As usual I followed my favorite chef Sanjay Thumma on one of his YouTube videos but I also checked out some other Youtubers and their versions of the dish and then set out to cook my own. The butternut squash is not native to India and thus is not typically used in Indian cooking but that is the beauty of Indian cooking, it can turn any vegetable into an exquisite piece of art.

So I started off by putting in some black mustard seeds in hot oil (South Indian cooking relies heavily on mustard seeds) followed by whole red chilies, fennel seeds (since i did not have any cumin seeds) and hing powder. Fennel seeds give a slightly sweet aroma which in the end matched well with the sweet flavor of the butternut squash.
After letting them fry for a short while, I then sauteed some chopped red onion until the pieces became translucent, during which I also added a pinch of turmeric and a handful of pink salt. This was followed by the butternut squash that I had chopped into small pieces.
I fried the squash for a little while, added a considerable amount of Kashmiri red chili powder, added some Tamarind water, and then put in some fresh water and let the dish boil for half an hour, stirring occasionally. Once the pieces of squash had become tender, I transferred the dal that i had boiled (Majority Masoor dal/pink lentils and minority Sabut masoor dal/brown lentils) into the dish and then cooked the mixture together for a little while more.

The final step was to make a Tadka. A Tadka is a technique used all over India wherein whole spices and spice powders are fried in very hot oil or ghee. In this way, all the aromas are released from the spices. In my Tadka I put in some more mustard seeds, red chilies, hing powder, and some curry leaves. Once i had poured my Tarka over the Sorakaya pappu, the dish was ready. And, so was my iftar 🙂

I served it to my mom and little brother together with plain white basmati rice, and the breads puri and roti. The dish had some similarities to the Sambar I had made two nights earlier, but I enjoyed this dish more. The squash was very flavorful and sweet and it felt like it not only filled up my stomach but my soul as well.

So, my last two iftars have been south Indian iftars and they have not disappointed. Sambar from Kerala and Sorakaya pappu from Andhra Pradesh. Which Indian state will I choose for my next Iftar meal? Stay tuned 🙂

God bless and continue to enjoy your Ramadan ❤

Ramadan Cooking Day 16

Assalamu Aleikum! 🙂

Hope that you all are having a pleasant and happy Ramadan, In Sha Allah.

So today I decided to cook a South Indian dish for Iftar, something that I have never done since up until now I have only focused myself on cooking North Indian dishes, mainly from the Uttar Pradesh region. Indian food, whether it be from the North or South, is especially perfect for the holy month of Ramadan because it is light and easy while still full of all the essential nutrients that are needed for feeling energetic and positive throughout the long fasting days. (Side note: I live in Stockholm and the fast lasts about 20 hours)

The dish that I decided to cook is called Sambar. The word sambar (old Tamil:Champaar – சாம்பார்) stems from Tamil word Champaaram (சம்பாரம்) meaning “spicy condiments”. Thus, the dish, at least when made in India, tends to be spicy. A sambar is basically a stew that is based on a broad range of mixed vegetables and daals (lentils). I did not have access to all the traditional vegetables used back in India so I improvised and used aubergines, carrots, tomatoes, onions, garlic, turnip, and string beans.

What gives the dish its unique taste is the mix of both Tamarind water and coconut milk. Tamarind and Coconut are staple ingredients of South Indian cuisine.
Mixed together with whole red chilies, black mustard seeds, fennel seeds, turmeric powder, red chili powder, asafoetida (hing powder), brown sugar, whole black peppercorns, curry leaves, salt, and store bought MDH Sambar Masala, the taste of dish reminds one of a typical Thai curry dish with an Indian twist.
My taste buds tell me that Sambar is 100% Indian but that if served in Thailand it would somehow blend in with the rest of the cuisine. Anyhow, a spicy tropical dish that warmed my heart for Iftar. I also made rice, chapattis, and what i call “Flat batura”, similar to the normal puffed up batura. Batura is a North Indian bread that is usually served with the Punjabi dish Chana Masala.

So dear friends, remember to eat healthy, drink plenty of water, and have fun in your kitchens during this blessed month.

God bless ❤

 

Why Abdul Ghaffar Khan Is Our Greatest Hope For Peace!

Abdul Ghaffar Khan is, in my opinion, the greatest peacemaker of all time! He dedicated his entire life to serving his Pashtun people and serving humanity, and did so, without pause, for 80 years! From opening his first girls school in 1910 in his native village of Utmanzai in the North-Western Frontier Province of what then was British India, (now Khyber Pakthunkhwa, Pakistan) until his death on January 20th, 1988, at 98 years old, this man served his people and humanity unlike no other human being has ever served!
From walking 25 miles a day to visit every single village in his part of India for years, to spending countless hours educating and uplifting his fellow Pashtuns, to encouraging Women to participate in every part of society, to turning a people who had such an intense warrior spirit, so much so that the British feared them more than any other people in the world, and who valued their guns more than anything, into history’s first and to this day ONLY Non-Violent army in order to fight against British Rule, to spending over 30 years in jail in the harshest of conditions, and somehow, near the end of his life, at age 95, still having the fire within him to continue to fight for Human Rights, this man is a true diamond of our humanity!
He was saying at age 95 that he had little concern for himself and his well being, only that he had to continue to fight to educate the future generations so that they could build a peaceful world based on Non-Violence!
Yet, moving on, he is virtually unknown outside of India, and Pakistan, and Afganistan (he has roots in all three countries, as the Pashtuns are in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and when he was born, they were in India, until Partition)

The world needs to know, and especially today’s world, that it actually has in its history a Non-Violent Army, an army that was mostly made up of Muslims, had 100,000 soldiers, MEN AND WOMEN, standing as equals, side by side, and was founded by a man who called his Non-Violence “The Weapon Of The Prophet (pbuh).” The world really needs to know this, because this, is the TRUTH! The example of these brave Pashtun people that laid down their lives without taking any life are the example that the world most needs today, and i believe that, from the bottom of my heart!

In Ghaffar Khan’s own words, from 1985 :

“Today’s world is traveling in some strange direction. You see that the world is going toward destruction and violence. And the specialty of violence is to create hatred among people and fear. I am a believer in nonviolence and I say that no peace or tranquility will descend upon the people of the world until nonviolence is practiced, because nonviolence is love and it stirs courage in people.”

I hope that the passion and example of Ghaffar Khan can light the fire of peace in all of our hearts, help to keep the flame alive for those who are going through difficult times, and cause the flame to burn brighter for those who already have it!

Now, i wont say anymore, simply go out, and READ!

Salam! Much love to you all ❤

Always Caring